Crazy Idea?

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Crazy Idea?

Postby Bonkers » Thu 22 Feb 2007 16:16

Hi to all Expat posters - please trust me – there is a French bit coming up!

Having been unemployed for 2 years I am now being divorced after 27 years marriage. I am 60 next month and my wife (aged sixtyeight) will take at least 50% of my £12000 per. year work pension. We have always lived in a very nice house so I should be getting £200,000 as half share of our house sale proceeds.

Ideally I would like a small detached house or log cabin (cheep to heat in winter) in the countryside, with views, a garage and enough space to park a car and a decent size motorhome. Now I would guess that such a place in the UK would probably cost £150,000 at least. To make it worse it would be a higher band council tax. Therefore I would not be left with enough income to live in it unless I got another job. In effect I would need to be tied to working on past 60 just to be able to live in this house no bigger than my first semi I bought in 1971. This may be reasonable if I was supporting a wife and family but not for me on my own. My wife never worked for money in 27 years and I think it is my turn now!

So having seen some properties advertised in France for less than £80000 I am thinking that might be a better prospect combined with a motorhome. It would enable me to invest much more to make up my income. I would be easy for me to return to the UK to see relatives and also easy to travel south to the sun or west to the snow. I would like to invite family across for skiing in the motorhome.

I’ve nil knowledge of the downsides (e.g. equivalent Council Taxes etc.) and all the other downsides I’ve not even thought about yet! Perhaps there is a sort of hybrid option and if I reach 65 and qualify for my UK pension I might think about returning. Still I have a form ready for my bus pass and am looking forward to being 60!
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Postby Kay » Thu 22 Feb 2007 16:27

Hi Bonkers

I hope Ruggie will be along soon with some answers for you. First of all, though, good luck with this momentous life-changing move.

I know you said you wanted to be near the UK for transport reasons, but here's another suggestion. Have an extended holiday in Thailand before you make any major decisions. You can have a very good standard of living very cheaply - as long as you don't get hitched again too quickly, as that's the quickest way to bankruptcy.

Whatever, good luck to you. I hope you find the right answers.

Kay 8)

PS I don't get commission from the Thailand tourist board. :lol:
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Postby Bonkers » Thu 22 Feb 2007 16:43

Thanks for the very quick reply Kay. I will have a look more about Thialand but I imagine it will take me too far from my parents who are both in their 80s. Also after my present difficult circumstances, the prospect of a holiday by myself to such a far away place would be daughting and not something that appeals at the moment.

I have had a quick look at Bulgaria - but it's the price of property in parts of France that seem most atrractive to me.
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Postby Kay » Thu 22 Feb 2007 16:58

Yes, of course. I wasn't aware of your circumstances. It is really rather far away if you need to visit your parents. Unless you're prepared to pay for top-of-the-range flights it usually takes at least 24 hours, so it wouldn't be ideal for you.

Now, Ruggie (the moderator of this forum, who lives in France) might well disagree with me, but the vibes I've been getting recently suggest that France is no longer the cheaper haven that it once was. Bulgaria is buzzing - have a look at our Bulgaria forum if you're interested - but again, it's not for everyone.

My suggestion of Thailand was a little bit tongue in cheek as a lot of men your age (and many younger!) are desperate to retire here. Obviously I wouldn't suggest buying property here until or unless you'd been here for at least a year or two but there are still good bargains to be had. (Trouble is you can't actually "own" it. Then there are all the complicated visa restrictions.) Nah, you're better off not doing this unless you're very determined.

I wouldn't worry too much about being on your own here, though. If you had the right contacts - a few names and addresses - you could easily find yourself with an instant social life.

Anyway, I'm not trying to give you the hard sell on Thailand. It's just that getting divorced after 27 years seems to be an awful shock to the system and I was trying to think of something to cheer you up. I maybe shouldn't have suggested Thailand. This is the France board after all.
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Postby Bonkers » Thu 22 Feb 2007 17:22

Thanks for the kind thoughts anyway Kay.

It seems for ever to sell our house - no offers yet so I can expect to be living here for another 4/5 months at least. The good side of that is that it is nearly two acres, has a swimming pool, on a hill with wonderful views - a down side is no money after all the bills!

When the time comes I intend to be totally selfish and live somehow where I do entirely my own thing - (mostly Family history. Archaeology and Computers) - and actually save up for a holiday at the same time. I have specific projects to finish and that may take a year or so - after that who knows ;) The projects could probably be done based in France.
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Postby Kay » Thu 22 Feb 2007 17:33

These days some projects can be done from anywhere in the world as long as you're computer literate (which you obviously are). Go for it!

You seem like a nice guy - why not join in and make some new friends here? Try the Chinwags board on the general BE forum.

http://www.britishexpat.com/expatforum/ ... /index.php
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Postby ruggie » Sat 24 Feb 2007 21:09

Better late than never... Here I am.

Kay's right, the really cheap deals in France are pretty hard to find - but there's still stuff around fro GBP80,000 (120,000 Euros). There are quite a few online English estate agent/brokers specialising in French property - check them out to get an idea of what you can buy and where.

House tax comes in two parts - one for the land and one for the kind of property you have on it - both vary a lot depending on where you live (and so does the cost of water and rubbish collection). In your position, I'd be tempted to do what my writer friend George East has been threatening to do for a while - buy a camper van and travel around for a year or so, getting to know various regions at all seasons. That makes it easier for you to find somewhere and to buy 'out of season'.

Whether you could live in France on 500 pounds a month depends very much on your expectations. It certainly wouldn't be easy.

It's not clear where you're actually living at the moment - presumably in the UK - but I'd say that your chances of finding anything with the size of plot you're aiming for in the UK for GBP150,000 are fairly slim.

Good luck!
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Postby Bonkers » Wed 28 Feb 2007 11:18

Thanks Ruggie.

You mention Water and rubbish collection as being potentially expensive - are these charges an automatic part of the local taxes? ..or does one have options to deal with it seperately? - (eg. a neighbour near me on the Welsh Border who has never been on mains water has recently had a quote for having their own well drilled - £7000 but their water would then be free).

It is most likely that a motorhome of sorts will be my main abode and expense over the next 5 years. An Internet connection (not necessarilly broadband) and the maintenace of my small websites will be important for me to complete my projects. My expectations are quite modest - peace and time to enjoy my surroundings and learn French. I can make no real plans until my present house and divorce is sorted but it does give me something nice to look forward to.
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Postby ruggie » Wed 28 Feb 2007 14:14

Yes. The 'water & sewage' charges are automatic whether or not you have mains drainage and water, but they aren't prohibitive. What can hurt is the unit cost of metered water, because it reflects the actual cost of purifying it for your particular commune (much of the mains water round here comes from streams and shallow underground sources).

Likewise, rubbish collection is a standard charge - and that covers what's left after people have taken recyclable waste to collection points.
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